[globaloutlookDH-l] Digitized history v. digital history

Dagmar Riedel islamicbookcensus at gmail.com
Fri May 20 17:56:50 MDT 2016

Dear colleagues,
the current issue of the AHR includes an article about the impact of
digitized sources on historical research.
The AHA has made the article available OA for about two months
Best wishes,
Dagmar Riedel

*The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the
Shadows They CastLara Putnam*

Lara Putnam is UCIS Research Professor and Chair of the Department of
History at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Radical
Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (UNC
Press, 2013), The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in
Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870–1960 (UNC Press, 2002), and more than two dozen
articles and chapters exploring labor migration and its consequences, from
the very intimate to the very public. She is currently Vice
President/President-Elect of the Conference on Latin American History.

This essay explores the consequences for historians’ research of the
twinned transnational and digitized turns. The accelerating digitization of
primary and secondary sources and the rise of full-text web-based search to
access information within them has transformed historians’ research
practice, radically diminishing the role of place-specific prior expertise
as a prerequisite to discovery. Indeed, we can now find information without
knowing where to look. This has incited remarkably little reflection among
mainstream historians, but the consequences are profound. What has become
newly possible? How do the new digital affordances relate to the current
boom in transnational topics and approaches? How do the reach, speed, and
granularity of digitized search impact our ability to reconstruct the
supranational past? This essay heralds the novel forms of
knowledge-generation made possible by technological transformations. It
also attempts an accounting of all the ancillary learning that
international research in an analog world once required. What kinds of
knowledge and insight did place-based research across borders instill? What
are the intellectual and political consequences of leaving that behind?
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